From: Exposing Spiritualistic Practices in Healing by Edwin A. Noyes M.D., MPH
Mindfulness meditation has captured the interest of the world in the field of psychology and stress management the past few years. Interest in it has swept across America like a tidal wave and there seems to be no end in sight. We have been exposed and grown accustomed to Hindu type meditation and yoga over the past 50 or more years. But, what is this mindfulness you speak about? You say it has grown and spread everywhere, yet I have not heard of it and what’s more I do not understand the word “mindfulness.”
Courses of mindfulness meditation are offered in many businesses, universities, government agencies, counseling centers, schools, hospital, religious groups, law firms, prisons, military, and other organizations. The business world, has taken a strong interest in the technique evidenced by articles in the business press, in books on leadership, and on the Internet. A book with the title of, Resonant Leadership Renewing Yourself and Connecting with Others Through Mindfulness, Hope, and Compassion, by Boyatzis and Mckee along with many other books have added force to this popular subject.
The University of Massachusetts Medical School Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society, as well as Carroll’s book, The Mindful Leader, published in 2007 amplifies the widespread utilization of this style of meditation. Many fortune 500 companies utilize “mindfulness” for training programs as well as the CEOs of some companies practice such. This University center has promoted the integration of mindfulness meditation in mainstream medicine and health care through patient care, research, academic medical and professional education. These activities have been directed by Saki f. Santorelli, EdD, MA, and with the founding of the center by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D. 18,000 people have completed an 8 week mindfulness-based stress reduction program offered by this center. Mindfulness meditation has and is making itself felt throughout the discipline of psychology.
What is mindfulness? How does it differ from other meditative techniques? What is the advantage? What is its origin? Is it spiritually safe? The term “mindfulness” is a translation of Sati of the Pali language into the Sanskrit word smrti, meaning “that which is remembered.” David explains:
Sati is literally “memory” but is used with reference to the constantly repeated phrase “mindful and thoughtful”; and means that activity of mind and constant presence of mind which is one of the duties most frequently inculcated on the good Buddhist.
Shambhala Publications Presents, “A Guide to Buddhism,” and lists the basics of Buddhism:
Four Noble Truths; The Eightfold Path; 1. Karma; 2. Attachment; 3. The Three Marks of existence; 4. Koans: Mindfulness; 5. Bardo; 6. Heart Sutra; 7. Loving-Kindness; 8. Pure perception.
(numbers added by author)
This article on the Internet on Buddhism continues in attempting to define mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the English translation of the Pali word sati. Sati is an activity. What exactly is that? There can be no precise answer, at least not in words. Words are devised by the symbolic levels of the mind, and they describe those realities with which symbolic thinking deals. Mindfulness is pre-symbolic. It is not shackled to logic. Nevertheless, mindfulness can be experienced—rather easily—and it can be described, as long as you keep in mind that the words are only fingers pointing at the moon. They are not the thing itself. The actual experience lies beyond the words and above the symbols. Mindfulness could be described in completely different terms than will be used here, and each description could still be correct.
This meditation technique referred to as “mindfulness” was introduced by the Buddha about 25 centuries ago and is a set of mental activities aimed at experiencing a state of uninterrupted mindfulness. The article elaborates further with a comment that when this mindfulness meditation is prolonged, using proper techniques, that the experience is profound and it changes ones entire view of the universe. This article is spread over three pages with additional paragraphs attempting to describe what mindfulness is. I will share the first sentence in several different paragraphs describing mindfulness to illustrate the difficulty in understanding what is mindfulness meditation.
1) Mindfulness is a subtle process that you are using at this very moment. 2) Mindfulness is mirror-thought. 3) Mindfulness is non-judgmental observation. 4) Mindfulness is an impartial watchfulness. 5) Mindfulness is non-conceptual awareness. 6) Mindfulness is present-time awareness. 7) Mindfulness in non-egotistic alertness.
I finally found a paragraph that had a sentence that made sense to me. “Mindfulness is not thinking.” Just reading this article and others like it in the attempt to explain this technique brings about feelings of mental confusion. Are you with me? Are you beginning to sense what “mindfulness” is? It is simply the Buddhist’s word for bringing the mind into the silence, passive mode, an altered state of consciousness—Eastern style meditation. Then this altered state of consciousness opens to the possibility for the mind to be influenced and/or controlled by satanic agencies.
In these days when skepticism and infidelity so often appear in a scientific grab, we need to be guarded on every hand. Through this means our great adversary is deceiving thousands, and leading them captive according to his will. The advantage he takes of the sciences, sciences which pertain to the human mind, is tremendous. Here, serpent like, he imperceptibly creeps in to corrupt the work of God.
This entering in of Satan through the sciences is well devised. Through the channel of phrenology, psychology, and mesmerism, he comes more directly to the people of this generation, and works with that power which is to characterize his efforts near the close of probation. The minds of thousands have thus been poisoned, and led into infidelity. While it is believed that one human mind so wonderfully affects another, Satan, who is ready to press every advantage, insinuates himself, and works on the right hand and on the left. And while those who are devoted to these sciences laud them to the heavens because of the great and good works which they affirm are wrought by them, they little know what a power for evil they are cherishing; but it is a power which will yet work with all signs and lying wonders–with all deceivableness of unrighteousness. Mark the influence of these sciences, dear reader, for the conflict between Christ and Satan is not yet ended. . . .
This 2500 year old Buddhist style meditation has been “secularized” for use in coping with stress, chronic pain control, immune disorders, anger, fear, greed, thoughts, feelings, attention, emotions, skills, addictions, performance, creativity, and changing the structure of our brains. It is proclaimed to change our relationship to life. It involves “inward investigation,” to promote well-being. It is partaking of an ancient Eastern practice to inform, affect, and compliment life. It is said to now be based in science but was once in the realm of mystics and philosophers.
Ron Kurtz a psychologists, a Buddhist for more than 35 years, and author of the online text Hakomi Method of Mindfulness Based Body Psychotherapy. Hakomi is a name he gives to his psychotherapy which, in turn, utilizes mindfulness as a principle component of therapy. We connect to Ron Kurtz’s online book Hakomi Method of Mindfulness Based Body Psychotherapy.
- Mindfulness is undefended consciousness. It has been defined as “the clear and single-minded awareness of what actually happens to us and in us at the successive moments of perception.”
- It is a skill; it improves with practice. It is a traditional form of meditation, especially for beginners, It is a traditional method of self-study.
- In mindfulness, there is no intention to control what happens next. It is a deliberate relinquishing of control. That is why the first focus in traditional practice is often on the breath. To pay attention to the breath and not control it is more difficult than one might imagine, especially when we think about how little attention we ordinarily pay to breath and how well it works outside of our conscious control. Mindfulness is a way of surrendering.
- In mindfulness, one attempts to calm the mind, to silence thoughts.
- One focuses inward on the flow of one’s experience.
- In Hakomi, we use it in small doses (30 seconds to a minute).